Go Go Gadget MIDI extraction!


One of the new features in Ableton Live 9 is the so called “Convert to MIDI” option. In previous versions we could slice audio to a MIDI track, which basically meant so much as cutting the audio into little pieces, adding each piece into a pad of a Drum rack and then setting up a MIDI clip to play each pad in the right order.

Live 9 “slightly” enhances this process and adds new options; you can now also tell it to extract Melody, Harmony or Drums from a take and convert that to MIDI.

Obviously that made me curious so I picked 3 totally different music takes and ran them through the conversion process. Now for all of you to see and hear.

Inspector Gadget jam?

In case you’re wondering what’s up with the ‘Inspector Gadget’ approach; Its one of my old time favourite cartoons from my childhood, one which I still like to occasionally watch. The other aspect is its soundtrack (OST). In my opinion its actually quite good. Add a passion for sound into the mix and you quickly end up with a “Gadget Jam Project”.

3 different samples

Now, I didn’t only pick Inspector Gadget takes. One dance take and 2 from Inspector Gadget. And as you’ll soon see (and hear) all three takes are quite different.

Different in both quality as well as texture. The dance take is an mp3 file I picked up on a forum, the Gadget takes are snippets I copied myself from the DVD’s I own. As such the ‘Gadget samples’ are of pretty high quality and specific texture, the ‘dance sample’ (mp3) is of rather lower quality.

So let’s start…

Working process

There are 2 important things to keep in mind here. First; I didn’t bother to read the manual on this. Manuals are for pussies :twisted:.

More seriously; I merely wanted to get a good impression on this feature. So I loaded the takes onto a music track in session view. Turned warping off and then used the options to extract melody, harmony and drums.

After I had all three parts I then loosely mixed them together to see how much the new mix would sound like the original.

So really nothing too fancy here, but I do think it gives a very good impression of what we’re dealing with here.

Dance take 13

Waveform of the dance sample.
Waveform of the dance sample.

This is a snippet from a dance track, you can listen to it here:

I have no idea what the name of this particular track is, but that’s also not important. As you can hear and see in the picture its pretty flat (no heavy basses or such).

So I started by extracting its melody, you can listen to that take here:

I think this sounds pretty decent, especially if you take into consideration that the source file was a mere MP3.

SO next is the harmony, this sounds a bit more impressive in my opinion, especially when taking the source material into consideration:

And finally the drums…  Now, the drums are the least impressive of the lot in my opinion, but even so they’re decent enough:

Now, add all three together and this is what you get:

Inspector Gadget quick-take

Next up is the Inspector Gadget take. Now, in order to save bandwith and such I’m only going to present the original and the “extracted mix” from here on. I think that gives you a good impression of what to expect from this feature.

Gadget outtake
Inspector Gadget snippet waveform.

Here is the original:

And here is the mix of all three extracted parts. You can hear that Live has a lot more difficulty here to keep it all together. In my opinion it sounds a lot less impressive than the previous example:

Penny theme

I guess the correct name should be ‘action theme’ since this was the kind of music you got when she came into action to save the day. Alas, here’s the waveform:

Penny theme waveform
Waveform of the Penny theme.

And here is the original:

Now, you’ll notice that Live has even more trouble keeping it all together with this take, just listen to this mix:

Now, its obviously not all that bad. You can clearly hear parts and snippets which really sound like the original. With the last two samples you’re simply better off not using the entire mix of all three extracted parts together, but with merely using the individual takes; harmony or melody.


I think the new MIDI extraction options in Live 9 are very impressive. As I wrote earlier; I didn’t bother at all to try and enhance things. I also have no idea (yet) if this process could be influenced by warping the material prior to extracting the several outtakes (which could be a process in itself; warping can sometimes be very difficult, but at the same time also very rewarding).

Even so, I think its a very impressive result. Especially if you listen to the example of the dance track.

This is a feature which is definitely worth diving into to experiment with it some more.